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November 2005

Good Spirits in Ottawa

Mary_ottawa_2005 

My wife and I drove from Montreal to Ottawa yesterday to spend time with my sister, her family and my parents who are visiting from Orlando.  My parents are going up to my mother's 50th anniversary college reunion from nursing school at St Michael's College of the University of Toronto. 

Even though my mother will need to start a new chemotherapy program in another week, she is in good spirits.  In the past she had been more tense about undergoing treatment, but now she is undaunted. 

The photo above is my parents, me and my sister Karen at a church basement brunch near my sister's house.  If I look a bit shagged it's because I had just completed a 20 mile training run with the last 7 miles in the rain. 


Fast Facts About Ovarian Cancer

Drdonnica

Here are some excerpts from Dr Donnica Moore's "fast facts" about Ovarian Cancer, the silent killer.

  • Ovarian cancer occurs in 1 in 55 women, at any age, but usually over age 50.
  • Approximately 25,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year (American Cancer Society).
  • Ovarian cancer is the 5th leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women.
  • The American Cancer Society estimates that 14,500 women will die from ovarian cancer.
  • Ovarian cancer has the highest mortality rate of all gynecologic cancers.
  • 3 out of 4 women with ovarian cancer (75%) are diagnosed after the disease has reached an advanced stage (stage III or IV) because the symptoms of ovarian cancer are vague or “silent”.

Read the complete fast facts here:


The Call

I spoke to my parents this weekend to sync up for a gathering in 2 weeks in Ottawa at my sister's.  My parents will be flying from Orlando to Ottawa and then later going to Toronto for my mother's 50th year college reunion at St Michael's College, the nursing school of University of Toronto.   I'll be flying to Toronto and then with two buddies from high-school, riding from just outside Toronto to Montreal on a five-day bike trip.  My wife will be flying to Michigan to visit her family for a few days and then joining up with us in Montreal. 

Unfortunately, my mom got some bad news.  She's been in remission for ovarian cancer and now her CA-125 levels have risen.  So she's going to have to go another round of chemotherapy when she gets back from her reunion.  That will be her third time in six years. 

The last time she was pretty upset about it, unable to come to the phone.  This time her spirits are undaunted.  Maybe she's getting more used to the idea.  In fact last time she went through chemo they left the valve in her.  So I guess it was clear that it wasn't going to be the last time.

She's responded well to chemotherapy beating back the cancer before , so I didn't give it a lot more thought.  I didn't realize it then, but this time would be different. 


Introduction

Mary_bob_airport99_1This site is a diary of my mother's fight against ovarian cancer.  For those who want to know about my mother, and how the family coped, this site is for you.  The site may also be of interest to other families who are dealing with cancer and want to understand what resources are available. 

The picture above is me with my parents in Chicago, Christmas 1999, after my mother had completed her first successful chemotherapy treatments.  It's one of my favorite pictures.  Back then it seemed like we could beat the cancer.

Ovarian cancer occurs in 1 in 55 women at any age, but usually over the age of 50.  Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among women in the United States.  In the last year, 22,200 women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer and 16,200 died from it.  Worldwide more than 125,000 die annually.  Three out of four women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are diagnosed after the disease has reached an advanced stage.  Fewer than half of the women diagnosed survive more than five years.  That rate has remained constant over the past 30 years.  To her credit, my mom survived seven years and she lived longer than anyone could have hoped for --even her doctors.

The site includes news and resources on cancer research, but mostly it as a diary regarding my mother.  The entries are categorized as medical, mom, family or other keywords.   If you want to read the diary regarding my mother, you may prefer to start at the beginning with "the Call" and then read forward in time by clicking on the next entry in sequence at the top right of the page, to the right of the word "main" .  Visitors are also encouraged to leave comments by clicking on the "comments" link below every entry.

If you are dealing with cancer in your family, you may want to pay special attention to the links on the upper right hand side of each page below the heading "Resources" as well as links at the bottom of entries to articles or web sites.  A few notable links include:

About this blog

I started writing this blog in January 2006 as an outlet and as a way to keep people up-to-date with my mother's situation.  Before I began, I asked my parents if they were ok with it.  I told them I would write from the heart, but with respect and not reveal anything that would be embarassing or hurtful to the family.  I also told my father that if there was anything he did not want me to write, then I would keep it off the record.  My father read the blog routinely, my mother less so.  I think she liked the idea of it, but she was living it and didn't need to read it.  She enjoyed hearing the comments from family members and friends.  My father only asked me once to keep something off the record.  That was in mid June when they were making the decision on resuming hospice and he wanted to wait until everything was squared away before I wrote about it.

Out of respect for my mother, I have omitted some medical details which I do not think make for good reading.  I also left out some information on coping with the side effects of chemotherapy. With the exception of one posting, all entries marked from January 2006 onward were written and published in "real time" as events were unfolding.  Entries prior to that time were written from my recollection, but the dates and sentiments are accurate to the best of my knowledge.  Occasionally, I have edited entries in order to correct minor factual or grammatical errors.  I will keep the site live through 2006 and 2007, though I have mostly stoppped posting new entries.

This site takes its name from the fine book "Tuesdays with Morrie" by Mitch Albom.  Hopefully he doesn't mind.

--Mark "Zack" Urlocker
   Santa Cruz, California